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Concerns over Fort Cambridge restoration

Works are under way to restore Fort Cambridge in Sliema, which is similar to Fort Rinella in Kalkara. Photo: Paul Spiteri Lucas

Works are under way to restore Fort Cambridge in Sliema, which is similar to Fort Rinella in Kalkara. Photo: Paul Spiteri Lucas

The development company bound to restore Fort Cambridge in Tigné has given its assurance that it is fully committed to the project, amid concerns that works are progressing at a very slow pace.

In 2007, Gap Developments was given 10 years to turn the fort into a tourist attraction, as part of a wider project that includes the construction of an adjacent block of luxury apartments.

Completed in 1898, the pentagon-shaped Victorian fortification is similar in design to Fort Rinella in Kalkara. Both forts housed one of the three famous 100-tonne guns which used to be manned by a crew of 35.

The reconstruction of part of the fort according to the approved specifications has begun

Tignè residents told this newspaper that since the planning authority granted the permit for the fort’s restoration in 2010, it seemed that very little work had been done. They complained it had become an eyesore and was in urgent need of repair. Part of it was dilapidated and littered with construction debris.

Contacted by Times of Malta, Gap Developments director Paul Attard said the restoration was in its second phase and was being carried out in accordance with a method statement approved by the competent authorities.

The first phase involved the demolition of a number of structures of no historical value built in the 1970s, when the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza was still standing. “At present the demolition of these parts is being carried out and the reconstruction of part of the fort according to the approved specifications has begun,” said Mr Attard.

This was necessary because parts of the historical building had been demolished to make space for various structures such as the former hotel’s indoor and outdoor pools. A retaining wall has been built around the fort and material is being deposited to reconstruct the glacis, before landscaping works can start, he said.

Once restored, the fort will be open to the public and will include a commercial element which, according to the developer, would be essential for its financial viability.

However he would not commit himself when asked what kind of commercial activity was being planned. Asked about measures to safeguard the heritage value of the site, Mr Attard said that both the planning authority and the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage were monitoring the works through frequent unscheduled spot checks.

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